The Frog

: The Violet Fairy Book

Once upon a time there was a woman who had three sons. Though

they were peasants they were well off, for the soil on which they

lived was fruitful, and yielded rich crops. One day they all

three told their mother they meant to get married. To which

their mother replied: 'Do as you like, but see that you choose

good housewives, who will look carefully after your affairs; and,

to make certain of this, take with you t
ese three skeins of

flax, and give it to them to spin. Whoever spins the best will

be my favourite daughter-in-law.'

Now the two eldest sons had already chosen their wives; so they

took the flax from their mother, and carried it off with them, to

have it spun as she had said. But the youngest son was puzzled

what to do with his skein, as he knew no girl (never having

spoken to any) to whom he could give it to be spun. He wandered

hither and thither, asking the girls that he met if they would

undertake the task for him, but at the sight of the flax they

laughed in his face and mocked at him. Then in despair he left

their villages, and went out into the country, and, seating

himself on the bank of a pond began to cry bitterly.

Suddenly there was a noise close beside him, and a frog jumped

out of the water on to the bank and asked him why he was crying.

The youth told her of his trouble, and how his brothers would

bring home linen spun for them by their promised wives, but that

no one would spin his thread.

Then the frog answered: 'Do not weep on that account; give me

the thread, and I will spin it for you.' And, having said this,

she took it out of his hand, and flopped back into the water, and

the youth went back, not knowing what would happen next.

In a short time the two elder brothers came home, and their

mother asked to see the linen which had been woven out of the

skeins of flax she had given them. They all three left the room;

and in a few minutes the two eldest returned, bringing with them

the linen that had been spun by their chosen wives. But the

youngest brother was greatly troubled, for he had nothing to show

for the skein of flax that had been given to him. Sadly he

betook himself to the pond, and sitting down on the bank, began

to weep.

Flop! and the frog appeared out of the water close beside him.

'Take this,' she said; 'here is the linen that I have spun for


You may imagine how delighted the youth was. She put the linen

into his hands, and he took it straight back to his mother, who

was so pleased with it that she declared she had never seen linen

so beautifully spun, and that it was far finer and whiter than

the webs that the two elder brothers had brought home.

Then she turned to her sons and said: 'But this is not enough,

my sons, I must have another proof as to what sort of wives you

have chosen. In the house there are three puppies. Each of you

take one, and give it to the woman whom you mean to bring home as

your wife. She must train it and bring it up. Whichever dog

turns out the best, its mistress will be my favourite


So the young men set out on their different ways, each taking a

puppy with him. The youngest, not knowing where to go, returned

to the pond, sat down once more on the bank, and began to weep.

Flop! and close beside him, he saw the frog. 'Why are you

weeping?' she said. Then he told her his difficulty, and that he

did not know to whom he should take the puppy.

'Give it to me,' she said, 'and I will bring it up for you.'

And, seeing that the youth hesitated, she took the little

creature out of his arms, and disappeared with it into the pond.

The weeks and months passed, till one day the mother said she

would like to see how the dogs had been trained by her future

daughters-in-law. The two eldest sons departed, and returned

shortly, leading with them two great mastiffs, who growled so

fiercely, and looked so savage, that the mere sight of them made

the mother tremble with fear.

The youngest son, as was his custom, went to the pond, and called

on the frog to come to his rescue.

In a minute she was at his side, bringing with her the most

lovely little dog, which she put into his arms. It sat up and

begged with its paws, and went through the prettiest tricks, and

was almost human in the way it understood and did what it was


In high spirits the youth carried it off to his mother. As soon

as she saw it, she exclaimed: 'This is the most beautiful little

dog I have ever seen. You are indeed fortunate, my son; you have

won a pearl of a wife.'

Then, turning to the others, she said: 'Here are three shirts;

take them to your chosen wives. Whoever sews the best will be my

favourite daughter-in-law.'

So the young men set out once more; and again, this time, the

work of the frog was much the best and the neatest.

This time the mother said: 'Now that I am content with the tests

I gave, I want you to go and fetch home your brides, and I will

prepare the wedding-feast.'

You may imagine what the youngest brother felt on hearing these

words. Whence was he to fetch a bride? Would the frog be able

to help him in this new difficulty? With bowed head, and

feeling very sad, he sat down on the edge of the pond.

Flop! and once more the faithful frog was beside him.

'What is troubling you so much?' she asked him, and then the

youth told her everything.

'Will you take me for a wife?' she asked.

'What should I do with you as a wife,' he replied, wondering at

her strange proposal.

'Once more, will you have me or will you not?' she said.

'I will neither have you, nor will I refuse you,' said he.

At this the frog disappeared; and the next minute the youth

beheld a lovely little chariot, drawn by two tiny ponies,

standing on the road. The frog was holding the carriage door

open for him to step in.

'Come with me,' she said. And he got up and followed her into

the chariot.

As they drove along the road they met three witches; the first of

them was blind, the second was hunchbacked, and the third had a

large thorn in her throat. When the three witches beheld the

chariot, with the frog seated pompously among the cushions, they

broke into such fits of laughter that the eyelids of the blind

one burst open, and she recovered her sight; the hunchback rolled

about on the ground in merriment till her back became straight,

and in a roar of laughter the thorn fell out of the throat of the

third witch. Their first thought was to reward the frog, who had

unconsciously been the means of curing them of their misfortunes.

The first witch waved her magic wand over the frog, and changed

her into the loveliest girl that had ever been seen. The second

witch waved the wand over the tiny chariot and ponies, and they

were turned into a beautiful large carriage with prancing horses,

and a coachman on the seat. The third witch gave the girl a

magic purse, filled with money. Having done this, the witches

disappeared, and the youth with his lovely bride drove to his

mother's home. Great was the delight of the mother at her

youngest son's good fortune. A beautiful house was built for

them; she was the favourite daughter-in-law; everything went well

with them, and they lived happily ever after.

[From the Italian.]